Six employees said United Airlines failed to provide accommodation for individuals who choose not to get vaccinated.
“We filed this lawsuit to protect the rights of honest, hardworking United Airlines employees who have religious or medical reasons not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. United has refused to grant any accommodations and these employees are scared by United’s draconian mandate that forces them to either get the vaccine or lose their job. That’s unacceptable in America,” Mark Paoletta, a partner at Schaerr-Jaffe representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement, according to Fox Business.
United said in a memo obtained by The Epoch Times earlier this month that employees—with a religious or medical vaccine exemption—who regularly come into contact with passengers will face indefinite unpaid leave starting Oct. 2 and will not be allowed back on the job until the pandemic recedes. The company also said it will place other employees who don’t come into contact with passengers, including baggage handlers, on unpaid leave until it can find a way to routinely test them for COVID-19 and mask-wearing.
“We can no longer allow unvaccinated people back into the workplace until we better understand how they might interact with our customers and their vaccinated coworkers,” the company said in the memo, citing the Delta variant.
However, Paoletta told Fox that the lawsuit “is not about how effective the vaccines are or whether United may mandate vaccination” and the “fact is that some people have sincere religious objections to the COVID-19 vaccine, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to respect and accommodate those beliefs.”
“United has failed to do this,” Paoletta said, noting that some employees also have “also have special medical conditions” and physicians’ notes not to get the vaccine.
The class-action lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Texas federal court. They are asking for a temporary restraining order against United’s plan to place unvaccinated workers on six years of unpaid leave.
Religious exemptions to the vaccines most commonly center on objections on how aborted fetal cells were used in the manufacturing and testing process. And medical exemptions usually include a doctor’s recommendation that a person not get the vaccine due to an underlying medical condition.
The Epoch Times has contacted the Chicago-based airline for comment.
A spokesperson for United Airlines told Fox News, in response to the suit, the “most effective thing we can do as an airline to protect the health and safety of all our employees is to require the vaccine.” The company then said that about 97 percent of its employees are vaccinated and claimed that its workers provided an “overwhelmingly positive” response to the mandate.
“We’ve been encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response from employees across all work groups, since we announced the policy last month. We’re reviewing this complaint in greater detail but at this point, we think it’s without merit,” the spokesperson said.
Last month, the CEO of United, Scott Kirby, said in a televised interview that his firm may mandate passengers show proof of COVID-19 vaccination if the Biden administration requires it. “If they tell us that they want us to check everyone we’re prepared to do that as well,” he said.